Panasonic, which announced at the CES show last January that it would push to create a 3D HD standard for Blu-ray discs by next year, declared at NAB Sunday that it will begin developing a professional "3D Full HD" production system based on the 1080-line progressive HD format, as part of an end-to-end 3D content chain that includes Blu-ray disc players and 3D-compliant consumer displays.
Panasonic was showing concept models of the system, which will include a twin-lens P2 professional camera recorder and a solid-state-based field recorder that use "AVC-Ultra 3D" compression, under glass in its booth. The system would theoretically give 3D HD producers a ready-made alternative to the home-grown systems they have been using, many of which consist of two cameras mounted side-by-side on a single platform to provide the left- and right-eye images needed to display a 3D effect.
As it did at CES, Panasonic was showing private demos of its 3D HD technology on a 103" plasma display. Along with a clip from the upcoming Disney/Pixar animated feature "Up," the 3D HD footage also included some sample skiing footage from the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. The footage of a giant-slalom skier was impressive, with snow crystals leaping off the screen into the air with each turn the skier made.
Considering that Panasonic announced at NAB that its P2 cameras will once again be the official recording format for the Olympics' host broadcaster, through a deal with Olympic Broadcasting Services Vancouver, one can expect that Panasonic will showcase its 3D HD technology in some form at the Games.
Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, VP of corporate development for Panasonic, says that the work on the Blu-ray standard at Panasonic's Hollywood labs is going well and has engendered strong interest from film makers. He says that Blu-ray discs have enough storage capacity to record the dual 1080p camera sources for high-quality 3D HD, and adds that consumer standards necessary to broaden the adoption of 3D HD across consumer devices, such as an extension to the secure HDMI digital networking interface, could come as soon as this year.
Rolling 3D HD out on cable and satellite systems will naturally come after Blu-ray discs for games and movies, says Tsuyuzaki, and widespread live 3D HD production for sports is likely years away. He points out that the adoption of HD took 20 years, though guesses 3D could go faster, simply by the industry's move to digital TV and the vast number of HD displays now available. He views creating a professional 3D HD production system as a necessary step in Panasonic's overall 3D HD strategy.
"We would like to give consumers the option of 3D-ready TV, and to support that effort, you'll eventually need ENG cameras and 3D editing solutions," he says.